Following two weeks of testing, practice and qualifying, the Indy 500 returns this weekend as 33 drivers attempt to win the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy and celebrate on the podium with a traditional bottle of milk.
Named after the 500 miles that are completed by the field, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is the flagship event of the IndyCar series and was first raced in 1911.
Its arena is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – a 2.5 mile long oval that is so large it encloses an 18-hole golf course and has a permanent seating capacity of 257,325 – the highest-capacity sports venue in the world.
This year will see the return of all these spectators since only a reduced crowd was allowed entry in 2021 and the race took place behind closed doors in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qualifying occurred last weekend to determine the configuration of the all-important starting grid.
Scott Dixon qualified in pole position – his average speed of 234.046mph across the four laps was the fastest ever recorded in qualifying.
However, starting in pole does not necessarily guarantee victory. In the last 12 editions, only one driver has held pole all the way to the finish. Dixon himself has started on pole four times previously and only won once in 2008.
He will face challenges from seven other former winners in the field.
Defending champion Helio Castroneves is hoping for a record-breaking fifth title but struggled in qualifying and will start 27th on the grid.
Dixon’s teammate and last year’s IndyCar champion Alex Palou qualified half a second slower in second place while Rinus VeeKay will start in third place on the final spot of the front row.
As well as these more experienced IndyCar drivers, there are seven rookies making their debut at the race – former F1 driver Romain Grosjean, who survived a dramatic, fiery crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020 and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson are among them.
Once the drivers have taken their place on the starting grid, a pace car leads them around four warm-up laps. Then, the fifth time they pass the start line, the green flag is waved, and the race begins.
How to watch
Held on Sunday May 29, the Indy 500 is and broadcast live on NBC from 11 a.m ET until 4 p.m. ET, with the green flag at 12:45 p.m ET.
For countries without traditional IndyCar broadcasting contracts, the race organizers have launched IndyCar Live! – a subscription streaming service.
One place where TV coverage will not be available is in the race’s hometown of Indianapolis.
Unless the 240,000 reserved grandstand seats sell out, there is a television blackout to encourage residents to buy tickets instead of watching the race at home.